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review 2019-08-28 14:00
Review: Viper (Isle of Storm and Sorrow #1)
Viper (Isles of Storm and Sorrow #1) - Bex Hogan

I received a copy from Netgalley.


This was also an additional book in one of my Fairyloot subscription boxes so I got a signed paperback as well.


I didn’t dislike it, I wasn’t particularly blown over with it either. It’s just another generic YA fantasy set on the high seas. In this one the heroine Marianne lives on her father’s ship. Her mother died when she was a young child. Her father is the Viper, the protector of the 12 Isles. But they’re more like pirates and assassins – ruthless, cruel and brutal. Marianne is supposed to take over one day.


However, she doesn’t seem to have the violent streak a Viper needs. She’s not dim by any means. She has a conscience and thinks things could be done better. Because she’s a girl she’s treated like crap by the crew. She has one companion – an older lady who has helped train her who treats her like a person. She was once close to one of the boys her age, but circumstances made him turn his back on her.


She’s betrothed to the Prince of the royal family the Viper serves. The prince appears to be condescending and arrogant. On the night of her official initiation as a Viper everything goes wrong and things happen and Marianne is forced to flee. Pursued by her father’s crew over the 12 isles she discovers nefarious plots and a secret about her own past that could have a massive impact on the 12 Isles and the Eastern Lands they’re on the brink of war with.


The prince isn’t the asswipe he seems to be – and there’s much more too him. Alliances are drawn, plots are uncovered, other Royalty is determined to be selfish and useless and things need to massively change. It’s up to Marianne and her companions to make this happen.


It wasn’t by any means a bad book, - it was just kind of okay. I liked Marianne as a character, she had a code of honour and a brain and thought logically. She was emotional but wasn’t ruled by her emotions. The prince turned out to be a really interesting character as well. The writing was okay, the story was okay. There just wasn’t anything about this book that really stood out to bring it apart from other sea based YA fantasies.


Thank you to Netgalley and Hatchette Children’s Books for the review copy.

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review 2019-07-25 13:38
Review: The Queens of Innis Lear
The Queens of Innis Lear - Tessa Gratton

I received a copy from Netgalley.

I somehow wound up with three Netgalley e-arcs – one was a sample I got by mistake. One approval from the US site which I never expected to be approved for and one from the UK site (I have both UK and US residences so I use both sites).

Reading this book reminded me of the Charlie Brown episode “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown”. In the episode Charlie Brown’s class are assigned to read “War and Peace” over the Christmas holidays. A daunting task as it’s such a big book and throughout the episode poor Charlie Brown is trying his best but only ever seems to be on page 5 of the book. At the end of the episode his best friend Linus asks did he like the book? Charlie Brown replies he finished the book at 3a.m. and doesn’t remember a thing about it. 

Which pretty much summons up my experience reading the Queens of Innis Lear. No matter how much I read, I barely seemed to make a dent in (it felt like I hadn’t got past page 5!) which I actually did. That being said – I absolutely completely fell in love with this book. I loved it so much I bought a finished US hardcover, a finished UK paperback and an audio version. It did take me well over a year to actually finish it. 

The book is a fantasy themed retelling of King Lear – the mad king and the ungrateful daughters and a kingdom poised on the brink of war. King Lear is not a play I’m that familiar with and did have to read the Spark Notes a few times to familiarize myself with the original story. The novel is full to bursting, it’s richly written with the most excellent word building. It’s so lush in its details. It has the most wonderful history and magic woven into the story. There are a hell of a lot of characters to get to grips with, lots of different points of view. Emotional and romantic and violent and a myriad of other emotions. 

I remember very little of the plot the characters, just that I loved it to pieces. 

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review 2019-04-11 14:00
Review: The Girl King
The Girl King - Mimi Yu

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I was so excited when my Netgalley wish was approved as this title was one of my most anticipated of early 2019. And I got it early.


And….it’s another one I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. I read the first half of the novel pretty quickly. The world building was interesting, and I loved Lu’s fierceness and determination to stand against the male dominated norms of her society. She was convinced her father the Emperor would name her his heir. She was a strong warrior, smart and determined, if a little headstrong. She certainly had an attitude about her, but it suited her character pretty well.


Of course the start of a 500 page plus fantasy novel, it’s never going to go as smoothly as this awesome girl is going to get what she wants and become the first Female Emperor. Lu’s mother is cold, horrible and manipulative. And clearly has an agenda of her own planned. Lu’s father is kind of passive. He’s a decent man but easily swayed.


So naturally Lu is absolutely livid when she finds herself betrothed to her moronic cousin Set and Set will be the emperor. Set is a jackass to say the least. Power hungry and dumb as a bucket of rocks.  The other main character in the novel is Lu’s younger sister Min. Min is the more reserved sister, favoured deeply by their mother, Min is a proper, demure lady who at first seems happy to do as she is told.


Furious at her father’s decision to make Set emperor Lu formulates a plan to get him to realise Set is the wrong choice. Which of course goes hideously wrong and before you know it while Lu is out of the palace the emperor mysteriously dies and Lu is wanted for his murder. Thrusting Min into a spotlight she never expected.


Min discovers she has secret magic, Set has a companion – a priest of sort who can help Min train her magic and help Set win over the empire. Min’s mother is all for Min getting together with Set. Min discovers countless twists and secrets in her new position. Her power is ever growing and in ways no one thought she was capable of. Min realises she doesn’t have to do what everyone always tells her.  There was so much more to Min as her story developed and I found myself routing for her as she grew over the course of the novel. She discovered inner strength and determination of her own. She could be just as powerful and manipulative on her own.


Lu meanwhile finds herself forced to make an uneasy alliance with a strange boy, Nok, whom she remembers from her childhood, a brief encounter but brief enough to make an impression. Nok (as far as he knows) is the last survivor of a race of magical shapeshifters. Who were exterminated by Lu’s family.


There’s a rumour of mystical race hidden in the mountains, people of immense power and a great army, and both Lu and Set seem to think that they can get these people on their side to cement their claim to the throne. Set by sheer force and domination, Lu by negotiation and determination. With Nok’s help. Of course, none of this goes according to plan and nothing is as it seems.


I really liked the magic system and the mythical side of things. Lu and Nok also showed incredible growth throughout, their views changed, and while some aspects of their personalities of course remained the same, (they wouldn’t be so interesting otherwise) they showed brilliant strength in their own ways.


Some of the novel dragged a bit, and all the things going wrong seemed a like one terrible thing happening after another and it did get a bit boring towards the middle with Lu and Nok’s story. Min’s story helped bring the novel out of its lull and things started picking up again towards the end. Which was unexpected. A cliff hanger of course. But I definitely want to know where this story is going.


Excellently written with some lovely imagery, and some interesting world building. It wasn’t without is problems but definitely an enjoyable read and would recommend for fantasy lovers.


Thank you to Netgalley and Orion Publishing for granting my wish to view the title.

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review 2019-03-28 18:35
Review: Girlhood
Girlhood - Hachette Childrens Books,Cat Clarke

I received a copy from Netgalley. This was one I got with my Hatchette Children’s auto approvals. I had heard of the author before, but never read any of her books so I decided to take a chance on this one. 


Trigger warning - anorexia. 


Then between changing Kindles and changing iPhones I managed to loose the original review copy file and ended up buying a finished paperback (along with several others by the same author).


I have a weakness for boarding school stories, particularly ones that promise a mystery. I was sort of expecting one girl vs the mean girl gang. But the main character Harper seems to actually be friends with some of the girls who form one of the popular cliques. It’s a fancy private school where very rich people goes. Harper’s family recently came into a boat load of money. Also suffering from a terrible family tragedy where Harper’s twin sister died recently as well, Harper needed a change of scene so found the boarding school.  She’s made friends and just about coping. 


Harper was a likeable enough main character, though she had a few flaws and could do some crappy things and wasn’t always the brightest bulb in the box, but a decently rounded character that was well fleshed out. She’s also dealing with terrible guilt believing her sister’s death was her fault. The sister was anorexic.  They both started a post Christmas diet at the same time and one took it more seriously with tragic consequences.  Anorexia isn’t something I’ve come across in YA fiction before, and it’s not something I can even begin to wrap my head around. Harper’s grief and guilt are gut punch. The writing packs a punch and can be emotional without being flowery about it. 


When new girl Katie comes in Harper finds herself connecting with Katie, despite the issues her other friends seem to have with the girl. Katie is quiet and keeps to herself, she only seems to connect with Harper. Misunderstandings and misinformation start passing around and with any girls boarding school, the girls can be very nasty when things don’t go their way. Harper finds herself torn when things start going wrong, stick to her own group of friends, stand with Katie...disagreements and arguments start and its hard to tell the truths from the lies. 


It’s a very compelling read and at times quite tough to get through emotionally. Not the most complex book I’ve ever read but definitely interesting. All the characters were interesting, even the ones I didn’t like much. I was rather surprised at how it all turned out in the end, certainly not what I expected, and I’m actually quite pleased on reflection, that it was different to what I thought.


Definitely recommended if you like YA boarding school books. 

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review 2019-03-21 14:00
Review: The Towering Sky
The Towering Sky - Katharine McGee

I received a copy from Netgalley.


I finished a trilogy!!!!


This will be a super short review because it’s going to very hard to avoid spoilers as this is the conclusion of an epic series.


A satisfying ending with all the questions and lose ends tied up.


We finally get the will-they-won’t-they answer to Rylin and Cole. Leda and Watt get a conclusion and start looking towards their futures. Watt has some pretty tough choices to make regarding his education and his super computer implant Nadia. Leda has some demons to deal with and amends to make for her crappy behaviour. The secrets between Avery and Atlas finally come full circle. Not, of course, without it’s drama. Calliope and her con artist mother have their work cut out for her when one Calliope’s former marks, who happens to be Cole’s older brother Brice turns up hot on her heels. But things take an unexpected turn. Avery makes a life changing decision.


Same epic world building and emotional drama as the first two. Glitz and glamor, romance and betrayal, questionable motives and morals abound. What’s not to love? As with the other two, it doesn’t take any great effort to enjoy this, it’s fun and easy to read and great ending.


Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Children’s.

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